One of the most anticipated teams in the league this season, and one of the biggest disappointments, is San Diego. The Dodgers spent heavily and showed ambitions to challenge for a World Series title, but two months into the season, they’re less than a 5 percent favorite.
The Padres lost 7-10 against the New York Yankees on April 29 at Yankee Stadium. It’s been a recurring pattern for the Padres to get into a rhythm only to have it break down. Once again, ace Darvish Yu, who started the game, was tagged for seven runs in 2⅔ innings. Mistakes continued to be made at the plate and on the bases. San Diego is 24-29 (.453) and in fourth place in the National League West. They are 7.5 games behind the division-leading Dodgers.
But Kim has been playing well. He’s not flashy. But he’s been consistent. Against the Yankees on Sept. 29, he batted third in the starting six, going 1-for-2 with a double, two walks, three runs scored, and a stolen base. He is no longer valued as a “utility player” who can play multiple positions.
Starting for the Yankees was their ace, Gerrit Cole, 33, the highest-paid pitcher in the league ($324 million over nine years). Despite the name recognition and skill set that could intimidate San Diego hitters, Kim seemed to have none of it. He calmly picked his pitches and, in a threatening situation, came through with a vengeance, earning applause from his teammates.
In his first at-bat of the second inning, he chose not to be dragged out by an outside pitch. With a bit of luck, a fastball in the zone was ruled a ball, and Kim worked a favorable count to 3B. He then picked off a five-pitch fastball on the high side and walked. Cole made no secret of his frustration with the call, and Ha-Sung Kim made it worse with a walk.
As a speedy runner, Cole and Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka’s sensitivity was at an all-time high. Cole doesn’t usually throw strikes, but one did. Higashioka’s pitches were also outside. He was determined to catch Kim at second base. However, despite his determination, Kim ran and took second base. The local San Diego broadcasters said, “It was practically a pitch out,” but there was no stopping Kim’s feet.
In his second at-bat, he was threatened. He was still in the game, but an eight-pitch fastball (155 mph) was aimed at his head from 2B-2S. It was in-country and looked like it was set up for an outside pitch if he wasn’t fooled, but the ball was too far away. Kim was so surprised that he fell over. His helmet came off. It was an intimidating pitch for a batter, even if he didn’t mean to.
He eventually struck out in that at-bat, as the Yankees battery intended, but in his third at-bat of the seventh inning, trailing 5-8, he got his revenge on the call. In the top of the seventh, O’Dowd homered to put San Diego up by two runs, and Kim was stuck at 2S, but he persevered. He took a three-pitch pitch, fouled off a four-pitch pitch, and took a five-pitch pitch. He took all the outside pitches. It wasn’t going to be a pitcher’s day, and in the sixth pitch, a curveball dropped low and Kim took a technical swing at it for a hit.안전놀이터
That was the end of the call, and Kim continued to showcase his ‘ace plate maker’ side. Kim had three more at-bats in the ninth inning, all of which resulted in runs scored, helping the team extend its lead.
Kim doesn’t normally have a high batting average. Today, he went 2-for-4 for the first time in May, but he’s been able to maintain his slugging percentage by consistently drawing walks. His OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) in May is 0.817. That’s better than the OPS of Fernando Tatis Jr. (.766), who hit seven home runs in May alone. This is because Tatis Jr. has had issues with his on-base percentage (.291), while Kim’s May OPS (.366) has been relatively stable. More and more, Kim’s value is shining through on offense.